Owner of Bob Evans looking to sell Ohio-based restaurant chain, reports say – NBC4 WCMH-TV

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Bob Evans, the chain of family-style restaurants founded and headquartered in central Ohio, is reportedly on the market.

The chain is exploring a change in ownership and has hired an investment bank named Kroll to aid in overseeing the process, according to multiple reports. Bob Evans is owned by a private equity firm based in San Francisco named Golden Gate Capital, who purchased the chain in 2017 for $565 million.

Bob Evans is exploring a change in ownership and has hired an investment bank named Kroll to aid in overseeing the process. (Adobe Stock)

Golden Gate declined to comment on the possible sale, and Bob Evans did not respond to NBC4’s request for a statement.

Farmer Bob Evans founded the restaurant concept in 1948 with a 12-stool diner in Gallipolis, Ohio, then expanded in 1962 with a restaurant called “The Sausage Shop.” Today, the chain is headquartered in New Albany and operates more than 435 locations across 18 states, with about 35 restaurants in Ohio.

When Golden Gate bought Bob Evans, the private equity firm opted to split the restaurants from the brand’s consumer-packaged goods business, Bob Evans Farms, which was then acquired for $1.5 billion by a company based in St. Louis named Post Holdings. Golden Gate then explored a $600 million sale of the chain in 2022, which never materialized.

Restaurant Business noted in its report that Bob Evans fared the COVID-19 pandemic well, as an early adopter of takeout and delivery that helped keep sales afloat when restaurants were shut down for dine-in service in 2020. The trade magazine said “that might be one of the company’s major talking points as it looks for prospective buyers.”

Bob Evans also pursued beer and wine sales following the pandemic, first with a quiet rollout of alcoholic menu additions at the chain’s Florida restaurants in 2021 before extending the offerings to locations in Indiana. The company later submitted liquor license applications for several Ohio restaurants.

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